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Data from: How much do phenotypic plasticity and local genetic variation contribute to phenotypic divergences along environmental gradients in widespread invasive plants? A meta-analysis

Citation

Liao, Huixuan et al. (2015), Data from: How much do phenotypic plasticity and local genetic variation contribute to phenotypic divergences along environmental gradients in widespread invasive plants? A meta-analysis, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.mp82q

Abstract

For introduced species that have spread across a wide distributional range, phenotypic plasticity (PLA) has often been proposed as an important contributor to invasion success, because it increases the survival rate during initial colonization. In contrast, local genetic variation (LOC) has also been proposed to be important, because it could allow invaders to evolve high performance in a new habitat. While evolutionary ecologists have long been interested in understanding genetic mechanisms that allow rapid colonization and spread of species, until recently experimental tests of these concepts have been limited. As a step towards generalization in our understanding of the importance of PLA and LOC, we review the current state of the literature on this topic using meta-analysis. Here, we focused on three fundamental questions: 1) which strategy, PLA or LOC, better explains the phenotypic divergences during invader range expansion across different environmental gradients? 2) Which species characteristics correlate with the occurrence of these different phenomena? And 3) does the detection of PLA versus LOC depend on the trait studied? Using meta-analysis we found that plasticity explained a higher proportion of phenotypic variation regardless of the environmental gradients studied or plant growth forms. PLA predominated in clonal, self-compatible and perennial species, while LOC predominated in annual species. The patterns were trait-dependent: LOC was significantly more important than PLA in phenology, while opposite patterns were found in fecundity and biomass allocation. The frequent simultaneous detection of PLA and genotypic variation in PLA among invasive populations suggested that PLA might benefit from LOC to some extent. Our results also indicate that the contribution of plasticity to the competitive advantages of invasive plants may be more informative than the level of plasticity itself.

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